News: Voluntary acts of kindness
Story by Spc. Reese Von Rogatsz
GHAZI AVIATION BASE, Pakistan – The soldiers and helicopters of Task Force Denali today delivered and helped distribute an assortment of donated gifts among the inhabitants of Kalam and surrounding communities in Swat valley, a region devastated by floods in late July and early August.
The toys, school supplies, shoes and clothing were collected and purchased over a period of time through a tireless team effort on behalf of staff, service members and personnel at the United States Embassy in Islamabad.
“This was a great opportunity for the Americans and Pakistanis serving in the Embassy to show support for the people, especially the children, suffering from the worst natural disaster in Pakistan’s history,” said Mr. Chris Gordon, a communications site lead at the consulate and originator of the idea for the charitable drive.
The event took place shortly following Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, an important religious holiday celebrated annually by Muslims worldwide. The symbolism in the observance encourages a willingness to give up some of one’s bounty in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those in need.
“We thought about the families that were displaced from their homes and had to leave all of their belongings,” said Gordon, adding “We had to do something.”
Voluntary acts of kindness are a shared value between the world’s major religions. Perhaps in some small way, here, on this autumn day following a ruinous summer, yet another message of hope was brought to those less fortunate.
There are approximately 300 soldiers from 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade based at Fort Wainwright, Alaska here. Designated Task Force Denali, the unit has been using the lift and movement capabilities of 18 CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to rapidly deliver relief supplies and provide humanitarian assistance at the request of the Pakistan government, commencing flight operations Sept. 11.
According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, the catastrophic floods of the 2010 monsoon season exceeded the magnitude of all recent disasters there in terms of the size of the affected population and widespread damage. The most recent figures from NDMA cite the number of total affected population in excess of 20 million, with 1.7 million houses damaged or destroyed, and an estimated 1,900 deaths.